New ‘forever fund’ aims to support Black community groups in Edmonton

A new endowment fund created by the Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) plans to support initiatives led by the city’s Black community.

Edmonton’s Black Community Fund — the first such endowment created by the Black community for the Black community — will focus on programs and initiatives that address specific priorities and emerging needs.

The goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of the year. The ECF will match the total.

“The goal is for the fund to enhance the quality of life for every Black Edmontonian,” ECF communications director Nneka Otogbolu told CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active

Conversation for a Black-led, Black-focused and Black-serving fund began last year during the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the time, ECF noticed the community that came together to support each other. Otogbolu felt there was a need to focus on the priorities of Black communities in Edmonton. 

Eager to be involved in her community, she partnered with Greg Davis, publisher of Melanistic magazine, to kick-start the endowment fund.

Together, they aimed to create a “forever fund,” Otogbolu said, with a portion of the income going to the community and the remainder added to the principal for growth.

“We’re setting something in motion that will help build the future for our children’s children’s children, in Edmonton,” Otogbolu said.

Community support 

It started in February with Edmonton’s first Black community roundtable, a town-hall discussion.

A group of Black organizations and community leaders came together to discuss the work ECF has been doing with the community and what else they could do. 

“They understood the importance of having a black focused endowment fund,” Otogbolu said. 

Listen here | Otogbolu talks about the fund’s importance

Radio Active6:19New fund is hoping to support and empower the Black community

Two Edmontonians who were looking for more community involvement, started a new endowment fund to showcase black culture. 6:19

The fund is now receiving donations, including $1,000 from the Sickle Cell Foundation of Alberta and an anonymous donation of $5,000. 

“It felt encouraging, if I could use that word,” Otogbolu said. “It meant that we’re heading in the right direction, using the right steps.” 

Nneka Otogbolu and Greg Davis worked together to start an endowment fund for Edmonton’s Black community. (Nneka Otogbolu/Edmonton Community Foundation)

Otogbolu said that although there are support systems in place for the Black community, they often have barriers that limit access. 

“We have observed that initiatives run by Black organizations in Edmonton are actually being underfunded,” she said. 

A group of 32 advisers — local Black leaders — will go through fund applications before deciding which organizations will be awarded funding.

Earlier this year, the Africa Centre spearheaded a food bank for the Black community. 

“Funding will go to such initiatives,” said Otogbolu.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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